Los Angeles—Evander Holyfield will step in to face Vitor Belfort on Saturday after former boxing great Oscar De La Hoya was forced out of a one-off comeback bout because of Covid-19.
But the bout has been moved from Los Angeles’ Staples Center to Florida after California boxing authorities refused to sanction a battle between Brazilian mixed martial arts star Belfort and former heavyweight world champion Holyfield—who will be a month shy of his 59th birthday on fight night.
Holyfield hasn’t fought since 2011, but he had signed to fight Kevin McBride earlier this year—with a possible future fight against his old nemesis Mike Tyson on the horizon.
After the proposed McBride fight failed to materialize, Holyfield posted on Instagram in August that he’d been “training hard for months” and added: “I promise my fans I will step back in the ring at least one more time before I lay my gloves to rest for good.”
De La Hoya, 48, said in a video posted on Twitter that he had been admitted to hospital for treatment despite being fully vaccinated.
“Wanted you to hear directly from me that despite being fully vaccinated, I have contracted Covid and am not going to be able to fight next weekend,” De La Hoya said.
“Preparing for this comeback has been everything to me over the last months, & I want to thank everyone for their tremendous support.”
De La Hoya indicated he hoped to reschedule his return to the ring for later this year.
“I am currently in the hospital getting treatment and am confident I will be back in the ring before the year is up,” he said.
De La Hoya last fought in 2008, when he was subjected to a beating by Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas over eight one-sided rounds.
However in June this year, De La Hoya announced a fully-sanctioned comeback fight against Brazilian mixed martial arts fighter Belfort to take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It was not clear Friday if Belfort would seek an alternative opponent after De La Hoya’s withdrawal.
One report said organisers were targeting former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield as a possible replacement. Holyfield, 58, has not fought since 2011.